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Southern survives SWAC tourney to nab NCAA bid

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Peter Cipriano had 21 points and nine
rebounds and Southern University beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 57-44 to
win its first Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament
championship in 13 years.

"Peter has been a very good player for us all year," said
first-year Southern coach Rob Spivery. "We wanted to go to him
late because both of Arkansas-Pine Bluff's big guys were in foul
trouble."

The Golden Lions (12-15) had three players with four fouls at
the end of the game.

Southern (18-12) advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first
time since 1993, when it upset Georgia Tech in the first round.

Southern held the Golden Lions to just 27 percent shooting in
the first half and led 25-17 at halftime. Arkansas-Pine Bluff went
1-for-6 from 3-point range before the break.

"I thought our defense was outstanding," Spivery said. "We
didn't shoot particularly well, but we played defense and rebounded
extremely well. When you do those two things effectively, you'll
usually have a chance to win."

Chris Alexander scored 13 points and Deforres Riley-Smith
grabbed 12 rebounds for Southern, which outrebounded the Golden
Lions 47-32.

Cipriano scored 15 points in the second half, going 5-for-5 from
the floor and connecting on all five of his free-throw attempts.

Timothy Hamilton made three of four 3-pointers to score nine
points for Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

"Southern played good defense, but the opportunities we missed
weren't about the defense," Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Van Holt
said. "Several times we had open shots and just missed. When you
miss easy shots against a team like Southern, it comes back to
haunt you."

The win marked the third SWAC tournament title for Spivery, who
also won the tournament in 2001 and 2004 as coach of Alabama State.